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Economy of Points

By shugyosha - 17th January 2012 - 09:22 AM

One of the very few missed opportunities in Battlefield 3 is a focus upon scores: although Battlelog displays SPM (score per minute) and the scoreboard displays individual scores, a player's eyes still peek at the K/D (kill/death ratio) first. The focus on K/D has been firmly established by the Call of Duty scene's massive volume of online videos, where games with a 25/5 K/D are considered average at best.

In Battlefield 3, team- and objective-play are much more important. A high K/D in the Deathmatch mode of any shooter is imperative for winning, but in Conquest or Rush you can end the match with a 1/10 K/D and still be a very valuable player. Alongside actively contributing to the team's overall progress within the gamemode, the reasons for this lie within the points system itself. This guide will give you detailed insights into Battlefield's economy of points.

Rewarding Actions

The point system is essentially a reward system that encourages you do to something meaningful. Let's begin by taking a look at the weighting of points for some actions. You can clearly see that the game is, in fact, not at all focused upon K/D:
  • Kill: 100 points
  • Revive: 100 points
  • Flag neutralized: 200 points or 150 for assists
  • Flag captured: 250 points or 200 for assists
  • M-Com armed or disarmed: 100 points
  • M-Com (you armed) destroyed: 500 points
This list is, by far, not complete. In fact there are another two layers which I will attend to further down. The reason for this list is to compare killscores with other basic scores. If we take the standard 100 points per kill as a basis, a kind of currency to balance other actions against, and formulate the other actions as goals then we come to this list:
  • Revive = 1 kill
  • Enemy flag captured = 4.5 kills or 3.5 kills when assisting
  • M-Com disarmed = 1 kills
  • M-Com armed and destroyed = 6 kills
Depending on how good you are in the game, you can easily see where your focus should be when playing for SPM rather than your K/D ratio. You can stay in an area near an enemy spawn and pick off players, or you can go and capture a flag. As a skilled FPS player, you can get the same amount of points you get for the flag capture in the same time frame, but the risk of getting killed has to be weighed against the reward. Arming and destroying a M-Com is an extremely rewarding action, but arguably presents the greatest risk. Like the Flag capture, it is also a two-stage process. Are you more likely to successfully stay back and get a kill than to arm a station that will probably be defused anyway? Are there so many attackers that you should arm the station yourself to get more points than you could get otherwise in the same time? These are the basic questions you have to figure out every time you play. As I mentioned, these get complicated quickly by three layers of scoring.

IPB Image

Bonus Points

The second layer, added to the simple point structure, is the bonus points system. Bonus points are rewarded for doing something under special circumstances. Killing an enemy with a Sniper Rifle will earn you Marksman bonus, Headshots will give you ten more points, killing an enemy in your flag area earns you the Flag Defender bonus and so on. Many actions will also yield bonus points when done within your squad: reviving a squad member for 110 points, for example. Resupply, Heal and Spawns on you do not exactly grant bonus points to any other major score but can still fall into this category. The above list of actions can win you the game if done often enough, while simply throwing medipacks won't. These actions only help in achieving this goal.

If you rush in and arm the M-Com with a high chance of getting killed, there are not too many bonus points to gain. This is perfectly balanced by the huge amount of points you receive when the station blows up, though. Staying back and keeping the M-Com area under control while another soldier does the job is a different affair. People will spawn on you, can be revived, healed or resupplied; you will probably get Spot- and Suppression- Assists, and the 25 points bonus for killing an M-Com defender to name but a few. You can get more than 100 points in bonus scores alone during the same time somebody arms the station and it ticks down. You trade a better chance for average point scores against the high risk, high reward scores. Or do you?

Ribbons and Medals

The next layer consists of the awards you achieve by doing the same actions multiple times. Ribbons are actually a bit counterintuitive to the whole teamplay and objective play aspect. Common ribbons like most weapon type ribbons, the Supply Ribbon, or the Medical Ribbon reward you for playing one class consistently during the match. If you really want to be effective on the battlefield, you have to switch classes to solve certain problems: be it a tank or an entrenched mortar, you have to counter it with specific equipment.

Still, let's get back to the points. Generally speaking, the more you do during a match, the more ribbons you are working on. Although it is not assured that you will earn a ribbon for doing something, the point awards for ribbons and medals can be factored in easily. For every seven resupply actions, you get a Resupply Efficiency Ribbon worth 200 points; equal to 28.57 points per resupply action. For 50 ribbons, i.e. 350 resupply actions, you also receive a Resupply Medal worth 10,000 points. Breaking the medal points down to individual actions, you again get 28.57 extra points.

I'm sure you just got hit by an epiphany. Each and every resupply action in the game grants you between 10 and 67.14 points. Sure, if you resupply 13 times in a round you only receive one ribbon but this still averages out each action at (7 * 67.14 + 6 * 10) / 13 = 40.76 points or 529,98 points in total.

Apart from not being fun, there is another reason you shouldn't head to the next server and start throwing ammo packs only. Much like resupply actions, kills can earn you a lot more than the usual 100 points. You turn around a corner and headshot an enemy with your G36C. Too late for your teammate, who just got killed by him, but at least you avenged him. This gives you 120 points for the kill with a headshot and the Avenger bonus. With this single kill, you are working on a Carbine Ribbon/Medal, an Accuracy Ribbon/Medal and an Avenger Ribbon/Medal at least (not factoring in any Nemesis kills). Let's assume, for the sake of the argument, you can get one of each said ribbons in the remainder of the round. It isn't entirely impossible, even if the Accuracy Ribbon is harder to get than the other two for average players. This ups the single kill's total point value from 120 to 457.14.

IPB Image

These are all arbitrary but likely examples. They show that each action is actually worth many more points if you are able to obtain a ribbon. Better yet, ribbons automatically lead to medals as long as you continue to play. Knowing that you will most likely achieve a ribbon with one action can add the said layer to your ingame decisions as it affects the risk/reward calculation. The difference between six resupplies and seven resupplies per round for example is extreme: The former grants 60 points, the latter 470 points over time.

This layer also changes how some equipment should be viewed. AT Mines are a great way to get more vehicle disabled and destroyed scores and the two ribbons whereas the Blowtorch is not naturally supported by your RPG/SMAW and grants only one ribbon. Choosing a PDW or shotgun as primary is also much more interesting for frequent class changers as you can work on your PDW/shotgun ribbon while changing classes.

Winning and Losing

The third, and last, layer is a matter of winning or losing rounds. We also have to look at ribbons and medals here, so why isn't this part of the second layer? The reason is that every other decision and action you take affects whether you win or lose, while these ribbons are the results of the sum of those actions. Battlefield 3 is a team-based game, but a single player can make the difference between winning and losing at times. Capturing flags while everyone is fighting elsewhere or arming a station under heavy fire to not run out of tickets come immediately to mind.

Similar to the calculations above, winning nets you a ribbon and a 1/50 share of a medal. We have to subtract 200 points from this figure though, since you get a ribbon as the loser too. This leaves us with a 500-point difference between winning and losing. As we have seen above, 500 points are not hard to get ingame if you can get ribbons frequently. We have to take into account that there is less room for potential here. When you perform an action in-game, you don't know if you will be able to get a ribbon later on unless it was the necessary action to earn the ribbon. The only potential points in the third layer are additional 500 bonus points on top of the 200 free points for finishing the round.

When we take the massive amounts of points into account that can be achieved by finishing ribbons these extra 500 points seem lackluster. If you have to decide whether you stay back or try a suicide run to the last M-Com station the economic decision becomes easy. Staying back to finish your outstanding ribbons is much more effective when we take the risks into account.

So why do we play for the win at all? Well the example above was chosen carefully, as it applies for the last M-Com station only. Earlier in the game it becomes much more important to actually try to arm the M-Com even if it screws up your precious K/D ratio or average SPM at that moment. Success does not only earn you points but, more importantly, the ability to work on a multitude of ribbons for a much longer timespan. In Conquest, the advantage of not taking more than half the flags in order to have more time is outweighed by the point advantage you gain for conquering them multiple times.

So the third layer is much more about being able to collect other ribbons than the winner ribbon itself. Every teammate will also get 500 points/stay in the game longer, so the winner ribbon is an award for teamwork. Although I doubt most gamers care about their teammates, the game still motivates us to win, stay in the fight and work as a team. Well done DICE.